Is My GPA Good Enough?

Posted By SWatts on May 29, 2013 | 0 comments

Is My GPA Good Enough?

Many MBA applicants write to me highly concerned about their undergraduate GPAs and ask, “Do you think my GPA is too low?”
In many cases, there is no cut-and-dry answer to this question. Certainly, statistics about each business school’s average GPA for matriculating students can help you gain a sense of your chances for admission. But beyond this, specifics matter a great deal. For example:

Where did you attend college? If your school was a top-ranked college in its country, your GPA likely can be lower than the GPA of a candidate who attended a much lower-ranked college.

What is your gender? Sorry guys – gals do sometimes have an easier time because, for many business schools, fewer women apply. As a result, women sometimes receive a little more leeway on their GPA.

Are you an overrepresented profile or an underrepresented profile? If you are overrepresented (that is, lots of candidates with your profile – country, ethnicity, industry – apply to business school), your GPA will likely need to be higher. If you are an underrepresented profile, you can usually have latitude to have a GPA that is lower than the average for matriculating students.

Did you have to work your way through school financially? The admissions committee will often cut you some slack if they realize you were juggling work with your academics.

What was your major? Some majors are known to be very difficult, and so what might look like a low GPA in a much “softer” major may be perceived by the admissions committee as a relatively high GPA for your major.

Did you participate in a varsity-level sport in college? If so, most admissions committees will realize that you were diverting a lot of time to the sport, and they might cut you a little slack on your GPA. Representing a school in a varsity-level sport is generally seen as very admirable and an indication of multifaceted talent. (Many MBA candidates might be hopeful that this same reasoning applies to other types of extracurricular activities, yet on the whole it does not. For most other types of extracurricular activities, the committee will feel you had more control over how much time you devoted and will think you should have prioritized well and therefore have maintained a good GPA.)

Other factors beyond these also affect the GPA assessment. If you are concerned about your GPA, try to evaluate how these and other mitigating factors might affect the way admission committees will view your GPA. These simple methods can help you understand whether your GPA will be seen as a strength or weakness of your MBA application.

Best wishes,
Dr. Shel (Shelly Watts)
President, MBA

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